KOTRA Official Kidnapped in Libya

The head of trade relations at the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in Tripoli, Libya, was kidnapped by armed men on Sunday evening. He was the first Korean to be kidnapped in the North African country.

Han Seok-woo Han Seok-woo

Al Jazeera quoted a Libyan security official as saying on Monday that Han Seok-woo (39) was probably kidnapped by local armed insurgents linked to Al Qaeda. The Foreign Ministry here said it is trying to confirm the identity of the kidnappers and find out why they did it.

Han was kidnapped in downtown Tripoli on his way home from work in a car driven by an Iraqi chauffeur.

A car with four men carrying small arms blocked Han's limousine and threatened him with their weapons. They loaded him into their car and drove away westward.

The chauffeur reported the abduction to the Korean Embassy.

The embassy is trying to find Han with the help of the Libyan government, police and militias. The Foreign Ministry here issued a special travel advisory telling Koreans to leave Libya.

Some 551 Koreans are currently in Libya, most of them staff of Korean construction firms like Daelim, Daewoo, Doosan Heavy Industries and Hyundai.

When the Libyan civil war came to an end in the wake of the death of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Korean building firms quickly returned to their sites. They feared that they would suffer big losses if they delayed the projects.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 21, 2014 09:22 KST